Honeybees (Apis mellifera) (A virgin honey bee leaves her hive with a…
Honeybees (Apis mellifera)
Environmental factors, in particular diet can influence how many years offspring and their offspring and so on live in honeybees.
A virgin honey bee leaves her hive with a swarm of workers, she will mate with some males and settle down to create a colony.
The queen will lay 1000s of eggs- most will be worker bees and some eggs will develop into new queens.
The queen will have mated many times with different males so not all worker bees are genetically identical, however 1000s of bees will be genetically identical. (They are clones).
This seems strange as even though a new queen and worker female bees look different, they have exactly the same DNA and worker bees live for a few weeks while a queen can live for years Worker bees also carry out many tasks a queen can never do like a waggle dance..
They phenotypic differences are due to larval feeding patterns.Until day 3, all larvae (worker or queens) are given the same amount of the same food, royal jelly. Royal jelly is produced by 'nurse' bees.
When the larvae are three days old, the nurse bees stop feeding royal jelly to most of them and continues to give them to some larvae but not others. Royal jelly is a very nutritious food source packed with things like important amino acids, unusual fats, certain proteins, vitamins and other nutrients that have yet to be identified.
Larvae continually givent he royal jelly develop mature ovaries, whereas those that are not are sterile- the contonual feeding of royal jelly also ensures the queen does not develop organs she will not need like pollen baskets.
Be larvae have an organ with a similar fucntion to our liver and this organ has a very similar hormonal pathway to that of mammals in controllinf sugar levels in the bloodstream. This hormone if juvenile hormone.
Bees have methylated DNA (unlike fruit flies). Switching off DNMT3, a methyltransferase in honeybee larvae caused most of the larvae became mature queens, suggesting the royal jelly has DNA methylation patterns in bees in importnat in dicatating the type of bee they will become.
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Bees can remember
Bees can be trained to respond to stimuli to do with food- when they are stimulated, methylation levels go up in areas of the brain attributed to learning and memory.
When a drug changing methylation levels was given to bees, their memories were lost at different speeds.
DNA metylation is used by bees in brain processing and memory processing.
Humans tend to promote promoters, above genes, retrotransposons etc but bees methylate CpG motifs in exoms (genes that code for amino acids), rather than gene promoters.
Bee methylation is more subtle- like a weak dimmer or make brighter switch.
DNA methylation is strongly correlated with control of mRNA spicing
There are 10.000,000 CpG sites in bees and less than 1% of them are methylated making them difficult to study.
DNMT removal is likely to have a small effect on lots of geense rather than a large affect on a few, as small alterations are very hard to identify and experiment on.
Ants in different social groups have varying degrees and patterns of methylationj suggesting patterns may be to do with social interaction.